One Point in Time

I sat there among the paper, projects, commitments, emails, bills, promises and looming deadlines. And I sat and continued to sit, unable to move on any of it. Full blown inertia set in and I was hopelessly stuck in it. This familiar moment in time is one I relive over and over and have little warning when it will show up. Several inner sparks tell me to gather the bills, write an email, or sort through the file. Others say create a plan, prioritize, call someone. Still more admonish my laziness;others push my head into my hands and plead with me to do something! No thought of threat or reward can lift me. I have lost many opportunities, much money, jobs, potential clients and a few friends over the years- all traceable to one or more of these quick sand moments in time.

On its face this does look like simple procrastination or laziness. I have work to do and promises to keep and I am doing nothing. There are reasons why I’m in this predicament- most of them the results of choices I made. I took on too much. I waited too long. I over-promised. I allowed too much to accumulate. I did procrastinate and succumb to more interesting pursuits instead of doing what needed to be done when it needed doing. This is all true. There is no one to blame but myself.

I have shelves lined with advice for how to organize my time and space; how to manage my things and my schedule. These are valuable resources in my life and in my work as a life coach. The myriad tips and tools for managing oneself are like bricks and mortar for creating an empowered existence. Each tool is an opportunity to build a stronger foundation and a calmer, more successful life. I can start fresh each day with a new way of being: From this day forth, all my incoming mail and papers go in the red basket. Starting right now, I check my emails three times a day and turn off my Blackberry between the hours of 2 and 4pm. I do a lot of cooking on Monday nights so that I need not cook for several days. As soon as I accept a new project, I outline its parameters and create a time line for completing it. These are all tools I use to create order in my life. When I commit to these kinds of activities, over a period of weeks, months, and years, much of the mundane aspects of living are automatically handled. With the start of these kinds of habits I have come miles on this journey toward living a fully harmonious life.

And yet even the finest sieve lets particles through. Despite my efforts to form good habits and commit to them, I sometimes forget to turn off the Blackberry. I’ll sign up for a Monday night exercise class or the red basket is co-opted for another purpose, leaving the incoming papers to fend for themselves. Without a contingency plan, there go the systems. This partially explains why, on this particular day, I sat there among the paper, projects, commitments and looming deadlines and felt so overwhelmed. My pre-frontal cortex, that part of my brain that plans and organizes and handles the details of my life, seemingly shut down. All the books, advice, tools, programs, habits and support groups in the world could not help me in that precise moment. I was stuck.

One Point in Time:
Sitting there at my desk at 7:07pm, mental wheels spinning wildly, I saw in my mind’s eye, a large period. I picked up my pencil and drew that large period on a piece of paper. Then I put my finger on that period. I thought of it as a pause button. STOP! Stop spinning. Stop thinking, ruminating, judging, deliberating, drowning. STOP. Breathe. Keeping my finger on the dot, I then I drew a small circle. What should be the very next thing I do? I wrote it in the circle. (walk to ladies room). When I returned to my desk I put my finger back on the circle. I drew a triangle. What is the very next thing I should do? Pack up to go home. I put my finger on the triangle, took a moment to pause and breathe. I packed up to leave. I drew a square. What next? I wrote in the square Go Home.

This whole process from the moment I drew the first period to the time I locked my office door took 7 minutes. At another time I would have sat there until 10pm feverishly plugging away. During my pausing moments, I focused only on what I need to do in the next moment. You can only fill a moment with one activity. My periods and other patterns represented those moments for me- one at a time. They allowed me to pause, and consider what do I really need to do next. I could take myself home to my family and make dinner for us, and sit down and eat it. Once I did that, I came to my home office and drew a diamond shape: 10 minutes plan for tomorrow. I made a list of 5 important things to take care of, with a reminder to place Periods through out the day in order to STOP, breath, notice, and decide. What’s Next?

Print Friendly
Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply